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Spin on Fastballs Thrown by Elite Baseball Pitchers


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 12 - p 2321–2327
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318220e728
Applied Sciences

Purpose In this study, we analyzed the direction of the spin axis angles and the spin rate of baseballs pitched by elite collegiate and professional pitchers.

Method The video image of a ball being pitched was taken from the period just before release until 200 ms after release with a high-speed video camera at a rate of 1000 frames per second. A custom-made device was used to analyze the spin axis angle and the spin rate.

Results and Conclusion There were no significant differences in the direction of the spin axis angles or the spin rate between collegiate and professional pitchers. A significant correlation was obtained between spin rate and ball speed; that is, the higher the ball speed, the greater the spin rate. In addition, the spin rate deviated more across subjects than did ball speed. For all subjects, the azimuth and elevation of spin axis were 19° ± 14° and −32° ± 9°, respectively. Some of the pitchers were able to put a characteristic spin on their fastball; the nature of this spin could be related to their pitching success.

1Graduate School of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Saitama, JAPAN; 2Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, JAPAN; 3Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Saitama, JAPAN; and 4Yomiuri Giants, Tokyo, JAPAN

Address for correspondence: Tomoyuki Nagami, M.S., Graduate School of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, 2-579-15 Mikajima, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1192, Japan; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2011.

Accepted for publication April 2011.

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine